"Difficult Time For Football"
In the wake of sweeping arrests of senior executives of FIFA early Wednesday morning in Zurich, Switzerland, FIFA president Sepp Blatter released a personal statement last night. His statement comes on the heels of twin investigations by US and Swiss justice departments on allegations of bribery and kick-backs by the FIFA officials.
“This is a difficult time for football, the fans and for FIFA as an organisation.” Blatter’s initial comment re-echoes earlier comments by FIFA director of communication Walter De Gregorio saying FIFA is the “injured party”. An injured party whose image has long come under close scrutiny given the barrage of corruption allegations in recent years.
Blatter underscores FIFA’s image perception stating “we understand the disappointment that many have expressed and I know that the events of today will impact the way in which many people view us.”
The FIFA president stressed his resolve to clamp down on all forms of “misconduct” which has rocked the football body.
“Let me be clear: such misconduct has no place in football and we will ensure that those who engage in it are put out of the game. Following the events of today, the independent Ethics Committee – which is in the midst of its own proceedings regarding the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cups – took swift action to provisionally ban those individuals named by the authorities from any football-related activities at the national and international level. These actions are on top of similar steps that FIFA has taken over the past year to exclude any members who violate our own Code of Ethics.”
Issues related to the 2018 and 2022 World Cups have been a source of debate as regards the voting process by FIFA executives. Allegations have been posited that the process is rife with irregularities. With fingers pointing at Qatar and Russia giving kick-backs to win the 2022 and 2018 hosting rights respectively, Swiss Federal Office of Justice have stepped in to investigate the process.
Across the pacific, the US Department of Justice is investigating matters of bribery and kick-backs. Sepp Blatter has pledged his commitment to work with both countries. “As unfortunate as these events are, it should be clear that we welcome the actions and the investigations by the US and Swiss authorities and believe that it will help to reinforce measures that FIFA has already taken to root out any wrongdoing in football.”
“We will continue to work with the relevant authorities and we will work vigorously within FIFA in order to root out any misconduct, to regain your trust and ensure that football worldwide is free from wrongdoing.”
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